Quicksand

Malin Persson Giolito, trans. from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles. Other Press, $26.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-59051-857-1
Gioloto’s English-language debut, a bestseller in her native Sweden, reads like an adaptation of a ripped-from-the-headlines arc of Law & Order. Chapter headings resemble timeline captions on a TV screen—“Week 1 of Trial: Friday”—and the novel proceeds chronologically, starting with “The Classroom” where the crime happened. A high school student named Maria Norberg, aka Maja, is on trial for the murder of several classmates, and she meticulously recounts her experience in a remote first-person voice. With Maja treating the reader as a confidant, key bits of exposition arrive idiosyncratically, and the backstory comes together small piece by small piece, like a jigsaw puzzle. Maja pleads not guilty; her charming lawyer Peter Sander places the blame squarely on fellow student Sebastian Fagerman, one of the victims. It’s not until more than 100 pages in that the names (and number) of the victims are listed. This methodical and straightforward plotting, in the tradition of Barbara Vine, may either tantalize or frustrate American readers used to a crackling pace and a surfeit of twists. Nevertheless, Gioloto’s novel is haunting and immersive. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/23/2017
Release date: 03/07/2017
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-1-59051-858-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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